Your hosts in the Hall of Super Justice:

Conservator: The Red-Blooded, Blue-Collared American Hero
Captain Capitalism: Valiant Protector of a Free Market
Libertaria: With her Bureaucratic Shrink Ray
The Dynamic Uno: A Lone Force Against Idiotarian Evil
Senator Stupendous: Mild-Mannered Page by Day

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Captain: I'll let you have the last word on that, but I simply have to disagree that the 416-3 vote in the house is indicative of what you believe it to be indicative of. After all, Kristof wasn't talking about the House, or even government; he was speaking about a very narrow sector of the public.

I would agree with you that political discrimination against Christians is hardly a problem. But I do agree with what seemed to be to be Kristof's general point--among many, especially the left, there is an unreasonable intolerance and spite toward Christian America. That doesn't have to manifest itself as political discrimination to be true.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Helen Rittelmeyer:
"Conservative Christians" by definition are those who "try to impose their Ten Commandment plaques, sexual mores, and creationism on society." If they didn't, they wouldn't be conservative Christians, not as the term is understood today.

Alright, it's not the O.E.D., or even American Heritage, but I draw the definition from reality: Kristof was complaining about the hostility of the Left towards "conservative Christians," and while I don't know exactly which Christians Mr. Kristof means to include in that, the ones who "try to impose, etc." are the only ones against whom I see any hostility. If you include Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian who tries to lead others to voluntarily accept the word of God, then Kristof would be talking about a problem that doesn't exist. Prejudice against those Christians just does not exist in the mainstream, despite what Cristina Odone has to say (full quote: "The chattering classes - educated men and women who are comfortably off, rise with the 'quality' media and retire after some dinner-party philosophising - pride themselves on being tolerant, sensible and humane. Yet they share one prejudice that turns them into rabid persecutors: Christians." I think "rabid persecutors" is rather strong language).

There's plenty of evidence that that particular intolerance is nonexistent and that my definition of "conservative Christian," in the context of Kristof's article, is valid: the day after the Ninth Circuit released its ruling on the Newdow Pledge of Allegiance, the Senate voted unanimously to affirm the wording as it stands now, with "under God." The House passed a similar resolution the next day with a vote of 416 to three. To three. Also, organizations like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes exist in public schools with, in my experience, no complaint from the Left.

You say that "Christians can evangelize all they like on their own time and dime," and that's all that I, and many others, ask.

And, I think, something the Left is more than willing to grant.

Christians can evangelize all they like on their own time and dime, and any liberal who truly believes in free speech will say the same.

I stand by what I said, that liberals don't mind Right-Wing Christians making use of their free speech and free exercise rights to evangelize. Well, they might mind insomuch as they don't like it, would really rather not hear it, disagree with it, find it irritating during supper, or get a good laugh out of it if they're particularly cynical, but that doesn't mean that they are going to use inappropriate means to try and put a stop to it (more than I can say for the Right's attitude towards homosexuality, if I may bring that up one more time already), or, as Kristof alleges, that they "blithely dismiss conservative Christians as 'Jesus freaks' or 'fanatics.'"

I think the Captain is mistaken, then, when he says:
Kristof gets it wrong, though, when he narrowly defines the stigmatized group as "right-wing" or "conservative Christians," because it seems to me he's speaking of all Christians in general.

I would challenge you to find evidence of mainstream liberalism discriminating against Christians in general, rather than just those on the far Right. Kristof offers the one about Ted Turner, but it's very important to note that Turner later apologized. Besides: 1) The "Christianity is a religion for losers" comment dates from over a decade ago, 1989 to be precise, 2) The Ash Wednesday remark is a greater sign of Mr. Turner's anti-Catholic bias than anti-Christian bias, since Catholics were a distinct minority in the South when he was growing up, and the Ash Wednesday thing was one custom that definitely set them apart from everyone else, 3) Mr. Turner is hardly an oracle of prevailing liberal wisdom, and 4) It was shortly after and partly because Jane Fonda found Jesus that she left him, so perhaps we can forgive Mr. Turner a little animosity.

The other example of anti-Christian bias Kristof cites, the t-shirt saying "So Many Right-Wing Christians . . . So Few Lions," specifically singles out Right-Wing Christians for its humor.

Kristof says secular America views right-wing Christians with contempt, which leads to intolerance and stereotyping against Christian conservatives in general. First of all, disagreement and intolerance are two different things, and while I've seen a lot of the former, I've yet to see any of the latter directed at conservative Christians by the Left. The Left certainly hasn't gone so far as to tell right-wing Christians that they're going to writhe in eternal hellfire. At least, as far as I know.

That the tone of debate in this country is sensationalistic and dumbed-down is no news. It certainly isn't confined to this particular battle in the culture war, so I don't think we can blame either side of this particular debate for it. It's a larger societal ill, bigger than the both of them.

You say that "To be a Christian means to be an evangelical," and you reference Matthew 28:19, but that introduces the theological argument of whether you can be a good Christian without following every word of the Bible, to the letter. I don't really want to open that can of worms, but I will say that I know many Christians who are not actively evangelical, but still serious about their faith.

As for the complaint of evangelicals being the subject of mockery, I'll mock anybody. Trouble comes when they don't have a sense of humor about it, or when I'm just not funny, and my jokes are stupid. But I certainly don't discriminate among Islam, Christianity or Judaism, although I will admit that I have a greater tendency to mock those who take themselves too seriously.

Captain: Libertaria writes:

"Conservative Christians" by definition are those who "try to impose their Ten Commandment plaques, sexual mores and creationism on society." If they didn't, they wouldn't be conservative Christians, not as the term is understood today. (There are those who are both conservative and Christian who do not fit this description, but that's like the difference between having a girl as a friend and having a girlfriend; being conservative and Christian is not the same as being a "conservative Christian," and if this becomes the heart of the argument, then we just need to clear up our semantics.)

And what dictionary did you pull that out of, exactly? The semantics need to be cleared because your semantics are unclear. This disclaimer would be much more useful at the beginning of the diatribe, as I was beginning to become offended.

I also think you're wrong about Kristof being mistaken when he says "Saying that one will tolerate evangelicals who do not evangelize - well, that's like Christians saying they have nothing against gays who remain celibate."

Perhaps Kristof isn't being clear, either, but rereading the piece, it doesn't seem to me that he's talking about the brand of Christian who believes that the law should be used to enforce the more particular tenets of the Ten Commandments--although that's certainly a large chunk of the group of whom he writes. (In the same paragraph, he obliquely references Roy Moore, the judge who refused to take down the Ten Commandments statue).

But that particular paragraph is about a much larger group--evangelicals. You don't have to be conservative to be an evangelical, but chances are, if you're an evangelical, you are a conservative. To be an evangelical means to follow the Great Commission: "Go, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." (Matt. 28:19). I describe myself as an evangelical.

You say that "Christians can evangelize all they like on their own time and dime," and that's all that I, and many others, ask. Many do wish to evangelize through the government, and I don't commend that, but that's not what Kristof is talking about. Kristof is writing about social evangelicals--those who believe that dissemination of the Gospels is a personal mission, which, if you believe Matthew 28:19 is.

And that's the heart of Kristof's analogy: To be a Christian means to be an evangelical, and if you challenge that, you're challenging the entire foundation of the religion itself. It is something that deserves not to be dismissed.

Kristof gets it wrong, though, when he narrowly defines the stigmatized group as "right-wing" or "conservative Christians," because it seems to me he's speaking of all Christians in general. Look at his examples:

On the other hand, the left seems more contemptuous than ever of evangelicals. Sensitive liberals who avoid expressions like "ghetto blaster," because that might be racially offensive, blithely dismiss conservative Christians as "Jesus freaks" or "fanatics."

Take Ted Turner. He has called Christianity a "religion for losers" and once ridiculed CNN employees observing Ash Wednesday as "Jesus freaks." Later, he apologized.

Can you be a liberal "Jesus freak?" Surely, and you would still be on that particular end of the culture war Kristof describes.

I think his underlying point is right, by the way. Can you really in good conscience write that conservative Christians "deserve to be mocked?" This isn't the Middle Ages, anymore, Christians don't have a hegemonistic control over America. At some times, in some places, it's actually quite hard to be a Christian. At some times, in some places, it's actually quite hard to be a Muslim, Jew, or atheist. But it's not right to mock Muslims (even if you're in Iran) and it's not right to mock Christians (even if you're in America, or, hell, the Vatican). If you accept one and not the other, I do not understand.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Helen Rittelmeyer: Nicholas Kristof's op-ed piece today ("Hug an Evangelical") charges that conservative Christians are "among the last groups it's still acceptable to mock." Perhaps, I might say, because they deserve it.

Kristof says:
There's also an odd lack of intellectual curiousity within the secular left about the Christian right. After 9/11, intellectuals rushed out to buy books about Islam. But on many campuses, it's easier to find poeple tho can discuss the Upanishads than the "Left Behind" books about Jesus' Second Coming - which, with more than 40 million copies, are the best-selling American novels of our age.

The comparison between sacred Hindu texts and a faddish series of pop novels is hard to swallow, first of all, but, more importantly, the larger point about diminished interest in Christianity may be untrue. Yale University's Directed Studies, a freshman humanities program, includes substantial readings from Aquinas, Augustine, and the Bible. In my (admittedly limited) experience, in fact, the agnostic students I know at Yale read more Aquinas than any of the Bible Belt preachers I've met.

Christianity, clearly, is being taken as seriously as it always has. It's simply right-wing Christians, the ones who take all their wisdom from selectively chosen Bible passages, who consider the Bible (and therefore themselves?) to be infallible, who think that without the Ten Commandments no one would know that killing is wrong, who think the cute guys on Queer as Folk are going to Hell, that are the subject of mockery. It's almost hard to imagine why.

It is fair enough for Kristof to say that criticism of the Christian Right does not have the tone it should have, and that it too often degenerates into name-calling and mockery (see above paragraph for an example):
Of course, it's fair to criticize the Christian right's policies. Regular readers know I do so all the time, for religion is much too important an influence on policy to be a taboo. For example, while we're on the subject of gay marriage, one question for fundamentalist Christians is this: What's your basis for opposing lesbianism?

Granted, the Bible denounces male homosexuality, although it strikes me as inconsistent not to execute people who work on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2) and not to crack down on those who get haircuts (Leviticus 19:27) or wear clothes with more than one kind of thread (Leviticus 19:19).

But there's no clear objection in the Bible to lesbianism at all. And since some fundamentalists have argued that AIDS is God's punishment for gay men, it's worth noting that lesbians are at less risk of AIDS than straight women. So if God is smiting gay men for their sin, is he rewarding lesbians for their holiness?

Those kinds of pointed questions are fair, but sneering is not.

I'll accept that religious conservatives should be allowed their opinions, and allowed to voice them where and when they can. But to ask that we take them seriously is simply too much.

Not to say that religion is ridiculous, certainly, simply that so much of the Christian Right's rhetoric sounds absurd to sensible ears. Take Jon Stewart's response to a clip in which Mel Gibson complains of the attacks he has suffered for The Passion:
Making a pro-Jesus movie in America. You're really going out on a limb there, Mel. Somewhere Salman Rushdie is playing the world's smallest sitar just for you.

And this from P.J. O'Rourke on the perils of seriousness:
Seriousness lends force to bad arguments. If a person is earnest enough about what he says, he must have some point. There's a movement in some of our school systems to give creationists equal time in science class. Man was plopped down on earth the week before last, one rib short on the left, and because silly people are serious about this so are we.

Okay, so neither of those humor bits are on the same level as, say, F.A. Hayek (although, to be fair, Hayek here is talking about socialism and economic planning, not the religious right):
We are not concerned here with the question whether it would be desirable to have such a complete ethical code. It may merely be pointed out that up to the present the growth of civilization has been accompanied by a steady diminution of the sphere in which individual actions are bound by fixed rules. The rules of which our common moral code consists have progressively become fewer and more general in character. From the primitive man, who was bound by an elaborate ritual in almost every one of him daily activities, who was limited by innumerable taboos, and who could scarcely conceive of doing things in a way different from his fellows, morals have more and more tended to become merely limits circumscribing the sphere within which the individual could behave as he liked.

But dealing with Christian radicals by calmly quoting scripture back at them is almost giving them too much credit. It is not "a crude stereotype," as Kristof says, that conservative Christians are "led by hypocritical blowhards who try to impose their Ten Commandment plaques, sexual mores and creationism on society." "Conservative Christians" by definition are those who "try to impose their Ten Commandment plaques, sexual mores and creationism on society." If they didn't, they wouldn't be conservative Christians, not as the term is understood today. (There are those who are both conservative and Christian who do not fit this description, but that's like the difference between having a girl as a friend and having a girlfriend; being conservative and Christian is not the same as being a "conservative Christian," and if this becomes the heart of the argument, then we just need to clear up our semantics.)

Also, Kristof, I think, misunderstands one of the Left's major complaints about the Christian Right:
Saying that one will tolerate evangelicals who do not evangelize - well, that's like Christians saying they have nothing against gays who remain celibate.

Christians can evangelize all they like on their own time and dime, and any liberal who truly believes in free speech will say the same. It's when they start to use the government to enforce their own personal rules of conduct that the libertarian in me becomes upset. It isn't that they evangelize, it's that they use the state to do it.

To end this quote-heavy post on one from the unassailable Puritan himself, John Milton:
Is it just or reasonable, that most voices against the main end of government should enslave the less number that would be free? More just it is, doubtless, if it come to force, that a less number compel a
greater to retain, which can be no wrong to them, their liberty, than that a greater number, for the pleasure of their baseness, compel a less most injuriously to be their fellow slaves. They who seek nothing but their own liberty, have always the right to win it, whenever they have the power, be the voices never so numerous that oppose it.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Helen Rittelmeyer: There has been much speculation (here, here, here, and elsewhere) as to whether democracy is at all compatible with Middle Eastern Islam. In Tuesday's primetime press conference, Bush got it wrong:

It's a legacy that really is based upon our deep belief that people want to be free and that free societies are peaceful societies.

Some of the debate really centers around the fact that people don't believe Iraq can be free; that if you're Muslim, or perhaps brown-skinned, you can't be self-governing or free. I'd strongly disagree with that.

I reject that. Because I believe that freedom is the deepest need of every human soul, and if given a chance, the Iraqi people will be not only self-governing, but a stable and free society.

. . .

I believe so strongly in the power of freedom.

You know why I do? Because I've seen freedom work right here in our own country. I also have this belief, strong belief, that freedom is not this country's gift to the world. Freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that freedom is not "the deepest need of every human soul," and it has absolutely nothing to do with skin color.

Take, for example, Liang Qichao and Chinese democracy:

Democracy was introduced to China almost single-handedly by an exiled Chinese writer named Liang Qichao. In 1895, he was involved in protests in Beijing calling for increased participation in government by the Chinese people. It was the first protest of its kind in modern Chinese history. Escaping to Japan after the government crackdown on anti-Qing protesters, he translated and commented on the works of Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke, Hume, Bentham and many more western political philosophers. He published his essays in a series of journals that easily found an audience among Chinese intelligentsia hungering for an explanation of why China, once a formidable empire of its own, was now on the verge of being dismembered by foreign powers. In interpreting Western democracy through the prism of his strongly Confucian background, Liang shaped the ideas of democracy that would be used throughout the next century.

Unlike the Western theorists he studied, Liang felt that there was no difference between the individual interests and public interests; individual citizens were granted rights in order to better strengthen the state. There was no need for individual rights in the Western sense, whose purpose was to protect the individual from the government.

Clearly, the individualistic democratic spirit that Bush considers universal and obvious was anything but, even to a man who translated and studied the works of Locke and Rousseau and is considered the father of democracy in China.

Also, the longevity of absolute monarchy (and, for that matter, a powerful Catholic church) in Europe and the difficulty most countries had in getting real democracy off the ground (I'm looking at you, France) suggests, at least to me, that the real trouble wasn't the corruption of opportunistic "reformers" but simply that most people don't have the particular passion for liberty that Bush, Patriot Act notwithstanding, does.

At the risk of waxing too philosophical, I'd say that "the deepest need of every human soul" is not always freedom, but sometimes comfort, and democracy is not always comfortable, as anyone who has seen Robert Byrd on CSPAN can tell you. This is not to say that no one puts freedom as their first priority, only that not everyone does. Sometimes cultural influence can be the deciding factor.

When a person analyzes a foreign culture, he has to tread a fine line between gullibly believing every cultural stereotype and callously thinking that foreigners can’t possibly be all that different from himself. No, not every single Chinese person is obsessed with “family honor” and Confucian ideals, but there are deep and fundamental differences between East and West, and underestimating those differences is, among other things, profoundly disrespectful.

Democracy in the Middle East isn’t impossible, but Bush doesn’t seem to realize just how fundamental the change he’s proposing is. Even if we are able to perfectly recreate in Iraq the kind of freedom-loving atmosphere we have in the United States, it still wouldn't guarantee a successfull democracy, as experiments like "The Wave" prove.

Saying that everyone in the world, deep down, agrees with your political philosophy, even if it's one as great as democracy, is, frankly, either naïveté or hubris.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Captain: Here is part of Ashcroft's testimony before the Commission:

The single greatest structural cause for September 11 was the wall that segregated criminal investigators and intelligence agents. Government erected this wall. Government buttressed this wall. And before September 11, government was blinded by this wall.

In 1995, the Justice Department embraced flawed legal reasoning, imposing a series of restrictions on the FBI that went beyond what the law required. The 1995 Guidelines and the procedures developed around them imposed draconian barriers to communications between the law enforcement and intelligence communities. The wall "effectively excluded" prosecutors from intelligence investigations. The wall left intelligence agents afraid to talk with criminal prosecutors or agents. In 1995, the Justice Department designed a system destined to fail.

In the days before September 11, the wall specifically impeded the investigation into Zacarias Moussaoui, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. After the FBI arrested Moussaoui, agents became suspicious of his interest in commercial aircraft and sought approval for a criminal warrant to search his computer. The warrant was rejected because FBI officials feared breaching the wall.

When the CIA finally told the FBI that al-Midhar and al-Hazmi were in the country in late August, agents in New York searched for the suspects. But because of the wall, FBI Headquarters refused to allow criminal investigators who knew the most about the most recent al Qaeda attack to join the hunt for the suspected terrorists.

At that time, a frustrated FBI investigator wrote Headquarters, quote, "Whatever has happened to this — someday someone will die — and wall or not — the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain 'problems'. Let's hope the National Security Law Unit will stand behind their decision then, especially since the biggest threat to us, UBL, is getting the most protection."

FBI Headquarters responded, quote: "We are all frustrated with this issue ... These are the rules. NSLU does not make them up."

But somebody did make these rules. Someone built this wall.

The basic architecture for the wall in the 1995 Guidelines was contained in a classified memorandum entitled "Instructions on Separation of Certain Foreign Counterintelligence and Criminal Investigations." The memorandum ordered FBI Director Louis Freeh and others, quote: "We believe that it is prudent to establish a set of instructions that will more clearly separate the counterintelligence investigation from the more limited, but continued, criminal investigations. These procedures, which go beyond what is legally required, will prevent any risk of creating an unwarranted appearance that FISA is being used to avoid procedural safeguards which would apply in a criminal investigation."

This memorandum established a wall separating the criminal and intelligence investigations following the 1993 World Trade Center attack, the largest international terrorism attack on American soil prior to September 11. Although you understand the debilitating impact of the wall, I cannot imagine that the Commission knew about this memorandum, so I have declassified it for you and the public to review. Full disclosure compels me to inform you that its author is a member of this Commission. . . .

Instapundit links to Mitch Berg's take on said author, Jamie Gorelick:

John Ashcroft shredded the 9/11 commission yesterday, all but dragging Jamie Gorelick from behind the rostrum by her hair and yelling "This woman wrote part of the policy that erected the wall between intelligence and prosecution", even declassifying one of Gorelick's memos (read: "smoking gun") which called for, as Ashcroft put it, "Draconian barriers" between the two parts of government most responsible for fighting the war before it became a military war.

So what did the media report? If anything, variations on "Ashcroft on the defensive", and "The FBI blew it".

Never - not in one account I've read so far, and I've read a bunch - did they read "One of the inquisitors on the 9/11 commission was a key architect of the system that made the FBI and CIA's job completely impossible." Not one example of "This commission's work is fatally compromised" - as they would if Gorelick had been a Republican, and the President a Democrat.

Well, what a mess. Instapundit also collects the blogosphere's take on Gorelick's presence on the Commission.

Captain: The Wall Street Journal has this article about the Jersey Girls, a foursome of 9/11 widows who spend their time lambasting the current administration:

A fair number of the Americans not working in the media may, on the other hand, by now be experiencing Jersey Girls Fatigue--or taking a hard look at the pronouncements of the widows. Statements like that of Monica Gabrielle, for example (not one of the Jersey Girls, though an activist of similar persuasion), who declared that she could discern no attempt to lessen the casualties on Sept. 11. What can one make of such a description of the day that saw firefighters by the hundreds lose their lives in valiant attempts to bring people to safety from the burning floors of the World Trade Center--that saw deeds like that of Morgan Stanley's security chief, Rick Rescorla, who escorted 2,700 employees safely out of the South Tower, before he finally lost his own life?

But the best known and most quoted pronouncement of all had come in the form of a question put by the leader of the Jersey Girls. "We simply wanted to know," Ms. Breitweiser said, by way of explaining the group's position, "why our husbands were killed. Why they went to work one day and didn't come back."

The answer, seared into the nation's heart, is that, like some 3,000 others who perished that day, those husbands didn't come home because a cadre of Islamist fanatics wanted to kill as many of the hated American infidels in their tall towers and places of government as they could, and they did so. Clearly, this must be a truth also known to those widows who asked the question--though in no way one would notice.

At another point in the article:

Others who had lost family to the terrorists' assault commanded little to no interest from TV interviewers. Debra Burlingame--lifelong Democrat, sister of Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame III, captain of American Airlines flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, did manage to land an interview after Ms. Rice's appearance. When she had finished airing her views critical of the accusatory tone and tactics of the Jersey Girls, her interviewer, ABC congressional reporter Linda Douglass marveled, "This is the first time I've heard this point of view."

We talked about the pathetic job that the 9/11 Commission is doing in Social Justice Club. I may be mistaken, but I think the general consensus is that the issue at hand is not who's to blame, but what the holes were in our security that allowed this to happen and fix them. Instead, the issue has been so inflamed by the media and the members of the commission itself that it's a foregone conclusion.

Captain: What would the economic system of anarchy be except Capitalism? Wouldn't that be the freest market imaginable?

Helen Rittelmeyer: North Carolina's PBS station, UNC-TV, decided on Monday to pull this documentary of Emma Goldman, the woman who became "the Queen of the Anarchists" by lecturing against capitalism, getting thrown in jail, and defending Leon Czolgosz, the man who assassinated President William McKinley.

The reason for the cancellation? Not Goldman's politics, but her breasts.

This from the Raleigh News & Observer:

UNC-TV decided to pull a documentary on Goldman's life because of a scene re-creation showing Goldman's lover, Alexander Berkman, undoing the front of her chemise. The documentary, part of the long-running "American Experience" series, was supposed to air at 9 p.m. Monday.

I suppose we can forgive UNC-TV for being skittish in a post-Janet-Jackson world, but cancelling a documentary about a controversial political activist because of "a flashed nipple" is pretty absurd. One wonders what Goldman herself would have thought.

To give a flavor of Goldman's politics, here are some excerpts from her interview with Nellie Bly in 1893, when Goldman was twenty-five:

"We are all egotists. There are some that, if asked why they are Anarchists, will say, 'for the good of the people.' It is not true, and I do not say it. I am an Anarchist because I am a egotist. It pains me to see others suffer. I cannot bear it. I never hurt a man in my life, and I don't think I could. So, because what others suffer makes me suffer, I am an Anarchist and give my life for the cause, for only through it can be ended all suffering and want and unhappiness."

"I kept myself in poverty buying books. I have a library of nearly three hundred volumes, and so long as I had something to read I did not mind hunger or shabby clothes."

"In our free schools every child would have a chance to learn and pursue that for which it has ability. Can you imagine the number of children to-day, children of poor parents, who are born with ability for music or painting, or letters, whose abilities lie dormant for the lack of means and the necessity to work for their daily bread as soon as they are out of their cradles."

"Take the woman who marries for a home and for fine clothes. She goes to the man with a lie on her lips. Still she will not let her skirts touch the poor unfortunate upon the street who deceives no man, but is to him just what she appears! Do away with marriage. Let there be nothing but volutary affection and there ceases to exist the prostitute wife and the prostitute street woman."

Monday, April 12, 2004

Captain: Instapundit links to this article about anti-free-speech legislation in the Great White North.

'Canada is a pleasantly authoritarian country," Alan Borovoy, general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said a few years ago. An example of what he means is Bill C-250, a repressive, anti-free-speech measure that is on the brink of becoming law in Canada. It would add "sexual orientation" to the Canadian hate propaganda law, thus making public criticism of homosexuality a crime. It is sometimes called the "Bible as Hate Literature" bill, or simply "the chill bill." It could ban publicly expressed opposition to gay marriage or any other political goal of gay groups. The bill has a loophole for religious opposition to homosexuality, but few scholars think it will offer protection, given the strength of the gay lobby and the trend toward censorship in Canada. Law Prof. David Bernstein, in his new book You Can't Say That! wrote that "it has apparently become illegal in Canada to advocate traditional Christian opposition to homosexual sex." Or traditional Jewish or Muslim opposition, too.

Since Canada has no First Amendment, anti-bias laws generally trump free speech and freedom of religion. A recent flurry of cases has mostly gone against free expression. The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission ruled that a newspaper ad listing biblical passages that oppose homosexuality was a human-rights offense. The commission ordered the paper and Hugh Owens, the man who placed the ad, to pay $1,500 each to three gay men who objected to it. In another case, a British Columbia court upheld the one-month suspension, without pay, of a high school teacher who wrote letters to a local paper arguing that homosexuality is not a fixed orientation but a condition that can and should be treated. The teacher, Chris Kempling, was not accused of discrimination, merely of expressing thoughts that the state defines as improper.

The article goes on to talk about the threat this poses to serious discussion of the moral questions about homosexuality, especially in Canadian churches. In some places, such litigation already occurs.

Captain: I love this story about Davy Crockett.

One day in the House, a bill was taken up appropriating money for the benefit of a widow of a distinguished naval officer. Several beautiful speeches had been made in its support. The speaker was just about to put the question when Rep. David Crockett arose:
"Mr. Speaker--I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the suffering of the living, if there be, as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living.

"I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has not the power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member on this floor knows it. We have the right as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week's pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks."

Later, when asked by a friend why he had opposed the appropriation, Crockett said: "Several years ago, I was one evening standing on the steps of the Capitol with some members of Congress when our attention was attracted by a great light over in Georgetown. It was evidently a large fire. In spite of all that could be done, many houses were burned and many families made houseless. . . . The weather was very cold, and when I saw so many children suffering, I felt that something ought to be done. A bill was introduced appropriating $20,000 for their relief. We rushed it through.

"The next summer, when riding one day in a part of my district. I saw a man in a field plowing. I spoke to the man. He replied politely, but rather coldly.

" 'You are Colonel Crockett. I shall not vote for you again.' "

"I begged him tell me what was the matter."

"'Well Colonel, you gave a vote last winter which shows that either you have not capacity to understand the Constitution or that you are wanting in the honesty and firmness to be guided by it. You voted for a bill to appropriate $20,000 to some sufferers by fire in Georgetown.

" 'Certainly nobody will complain that a great and rich country like ours should give $20,000 to relieve its suffering women and children, particularly with a full and overflowing treasury,' I replied."

"'It is not the amount, Colonel, it is the principle. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man. . . . You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution.'

" 'You have violated the Constitution in what I consider a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people.'

"Now, sir," concluded Crockett, "you know why I made that speech yesterday. . . . You remember that I proposed to give a week's pay. There are in that House many very wealthy men--men who think nothing of spending a week's pay, or a dozen of them, for a dinner or a wine party when they have something to accomplish by it. Yet not one of them responded to my proposition. Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people."

Friday, April 09, 2004

Dynamic Uno: Here's a nice story: Iraq's Olympic teams, which haven't won an medal in any Olympic event since 1960, are being revived with the rallying cry, "Iraq is back!" Awesome. I think this really puts things in perspective when you consider that Iraqi Olympic athletes used to be brutally tortured by Uday Hussein, and now they're optimistic and competitive. Even with the bad news coming from Iraq, we really can't ignore the numerous pieces of good news and or forget the ways Iraq is better off without Saddam and his sons. The prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government also looks at how Iraq has come along a year after the toppling of Saddam's statue in Baghdad.

On a related note, Amir Taheri (link via Betsy's Page) reminds us to stay strong in Iraq and holds that the attempts at an insurgency in Iraq are failing.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Captain: Here's an interesting story I plucked from the splendiferous Volokh Conspiracy:

Virginia Ormanian burned through most of her retirement savings playing slot machines in Detroit casinos last year -- something she should not have been allowed to do.

The 49-year-old gambling addict had voluntarily banned herself in August 2002 from the casinos through a state program that was supposed to keep her out.

"I was counting on the casinos to honor their contract," Ormanian said. "I had to get my life back together."

Now Ormanian and Norma Astourian are suing the casinos for breach of contract. They claim the gambling companies didn't enforce the rules of the "dissociated persons" list on which they placed themselves. . . .

A suit filed by Ormanian and Astourian against the Michigan Gaming Control Board was dismissed.

[David O. Stewart, a Washington, D.C., lawyer, who has defended gambling companies in self-exclusion and similar lawsuits, and advises the American Gaming Association,] said no plaintiff has yet to win such a lawsuit, but a verdict against the casinos could have repercussions . . . .

I'm no whiz-kid lawyer, but I think the solution's pretty simple. If the contract stipulated that the woman should not go into a casino as her part of the agreement, she's in breach of contract. If not, and it just says that the casino is responsible for keeping her out, then the casino is in breach of contract.

Captain: Chris Dodd is in a Lott of trouble.

Har har! Actually, despite the pun, the real trouble is that Chris Dodd is in no trouble at all. About a week ago Sen. Dodd (D-CT) honored Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) for his 17,000th Senate vote by saying this:

[Sen. Byrd] would have been right during the great conflict of Civil War in this nation... [and he] would have been right at anytime.

Sen. Byrd, however, hasn't really such an honorable history. He was formerly a member of the Ku Klux Klan and an opponent of Civil Rights. Here's one of my favorite Robert Byrd quotes:

Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.

Mm-hmm! A great leader in the Civil War indeed!

Now, do I believe that Dodd was making racist comments? Of course not. He was just being stupid, as all men, even Senators, have license to do sometimes. He didn't think long enough about the potential ramifications of what he was saying. But the comparisons between this and the Trent Lott affair are obvious. In fact, I can't think of a more comparable situation. Younger senator praises previously reknowed racist older senator by saying, "if only you were in power a long time ago." Empty praise? Of course! Myopia? Yes! Racism? No!

But the fact is, Lott was so taken to task for his comments that they are all he'll ever be remembered for. Foremost among his detractors, as this article points out, was Chris Dodd. Even Republicans leaped upon Lott and pressured him for an apology. Where is the gaggle of Democrats coming out and saying, "That's not cool?" This is my favorite part:

In December 2002, Dodd told United Press International regarding the comments made by Lott about Thurmond, "If a Democratic leader had made [Lott's] statements, we would have to call for his stepping aside, without any question whatsoever."

He continued, "If Tom Daschle or another Democratic leader were to have made similar statements, the reaction would have been very swift. I don't think several hours would have gone by without there being an almost unanimous call for the leader to step aside."

Don't try to nitpick. It's a tailor-made scenario. Some senator, somebody, please slap this guy across the wrist. He deserves it.

Captain: Speaking of which, I haven't heard of any follow-up to that article, which suggested that Russia sold high-tech equipment to Iraq during the period of UN sanctions.

Hmm. When you've got friends like these...

Dynamic Uno: I'm back, after a looooong hibernation from blogging. Sorry for slacking off on my superhero duties.

I thought this article (from Betsy's Page) was interesting. Ralph Peters says that Kurdistan is worth supporting and that freedom is possible in the Middle East.

Egypt, on the other hand, is less supportive of freedom. While Boutros Boutros-Ghali defends Egypt's struggle towards liberalization, Mitch McConnell claims that Egypt "Needs a U.S. Push." Though a National Commission for Human Rights was recently established in Egypt, and Egypt probably is more liberal than some other Middle Eastern regimes, Egypt certainly needs to make a lot of reforms, especially considering how much foreign assistance we give them and how few rewards we've gotten from that assistance. Boutros-Boutros-Ghali says,

I am fully aware of the gap that exists between concept and action, and there is still much work to be done to consolidate the Egyptian human rights movement. But I also acknowledge that, in light of the fundamentalist terrorism that we are all now familiar with, security problems at times take precedence over the protection of civil liberties.

This reminded me of an earlier discussion we had about Russia. We call Russia and Egypt allies in part because they supposedly help us on the war on terror enough for us to ignore their human rights abuses. (Of course, Egypt's recognition of Israel is another major reason we're close to Egypt, but Egypt as a whole is really not that pro-Israel.) But, as McConnell pointed out about Egypt and Captain pointed out about Russia (in a Jan. 10 post), they're really not that strong on helping us in the war on terror. (McConnell says that Egypt cooperates "on certain mutual security interests -- but not the liberation of Iraq.") I agree with McConnell that it's about time that we tie our foreign aid to Egypt to political and economic reforms, rather than throw money at an oppressive government.

Captain: The Rice testimony--looks good to me.

We also moved to develop a new and comprehensive strategy to eliminate the al-Qaida terrorist network. President Bush understood the threat, and he understood its importance. He made clear to us that he did not want to respond to al-Qaida one attack at a time. He told me he was "tired of swatting flies."

This new strategy was developed over the Spring and Summer of 2001, and was approved by the President's senior national security officials on September 4. It was the very first major national security policy directive of the Bush Administration - - not Russia, not missile defense, not Iraq, but the elimination of al-Qaida.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Captain: Also--who cares about the English?

Captain: My point wasn't that people were getting smarter (though I believe they are, all anecdotes aside--stupid but still getting smarter), but that they're getting richer and it's helping them get into college.

In fact, I think my entire point is that people seem to be getting richer faster than they're getting smarter, and so universities have to accomodate.

But then again, we're far out of my sphere of knowledge.

Helen Rittelmeyer: All this talk about an increasingly wealthy and educated America . . . it's easy to forget just how dumb people can be sometimes:

Exhibit A: This article from The Independent, showing the results of a historical knowledge poll.

It isn't so much that 42% of Brits think William Wallace is a fictional character, or that 15% believe the Battle of Hastings never took place. I'm more concerned that 63% of English adults are missing out on the historical roller-coaster ride that is Ethelred the Unready.

Exhibit B: This passage from P.J. O'Rourke's thorough Parliament of Whores, about his visit to the Newark projects:

I tried the conservative current wisdom, the Jack Kemp-style privatization and empowerment ideas on the woman who'd lived here for thirteen years.

"What if," I said, "you and the other tenants had a chance to buy your apartments, no down payment, with mortgage and maintenance no higher than the rent you're paying now. Then you could control the building, get rid of muggers and drug addicts and order repairs and renovations yourself."

"I'm not going for any of that," said the woman.

"But you'd own something," I said, "You'd be building equity. You could sell it later and make a profit."

"I'm not going for any of that," said the woman.

"But you wouldn't be at the mercy of the housing authority, the city council, all those people. You'd be a property owner. You could tell
them what to do." And I told her about various other advantages that would accrue to her and her family through privatization -- all very good arguments for the case, I'm sure.

The woman looked up at this seven-story sewer in the sky that she lived in and looked back at me like I was a big idiot and said, "I'm not going for any of that."

Leave it to P.J. to remind me why I'm a libertarian and not a Democrat.

Exhibit C: The Educational Attainment data from 2002, straight from the US Census Bureau.

Only 26.7% of Americans 25 and older have a bachelor's degree or higher.

So while universities may have an expanding and evolving role in American society, let's remember to have some perspective on the matter.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Captain: An interesting outlook. I wonder, do you have any vested interest in having all people judged on their GPA's and SAT's? (Wink wink nudge nudge).

But, all winking and most nudging aside, my instinct is to point to the change in the role of universities in American society as culprit. I think we've come a long way since the day that universities saw themselves as strictly academic institutions. As the average American becomes richer, the average American becomes college-bound, and so colleges and universities have to shift to accomodate the everyman mentality. As a result, more and more people are attending college who don't consider themselves to be "academic people," but they bring other things to the table: athletic talent, political and socialism, et cetera.

Universities don't have to look at themselves as purely academic institutions anymore. Primarily academic? Sure. But universities can now also claim to be major social organs (in no small part thanks to the turbulent college crowd of the 60's who reshaped the college atmosphere, and now work in colleges and universities), and the end result is that they seek students who can do more than just learn. Why, it's a positive feedback loop!

And the connection between this and perfectionism is that the desire to be "well-rounded" causes people to try to be "too rounded." What's the solution--to go back to judging completely on GPA's and SAT's? No, I don't think so. I think, all your experience aside, that does cut off a significant portion of the population who would do very well in college and deserve a chance to do well. I'm not really troubled with the expanding role of universities and their need to admit students who reflect that role.

Perhaps what admissions boards really need to value is a student's ability to find one thing that they love and focus on it throughout their academic career. I'd rather see students who are great at something than average at everything. Do they do that? I don't know--maybe we high school students should just be better informed.

Of course, Harvard and Yale still remain rigorous academic institutions. Certainly they should value things like GPA's and SAT's. But we can't just abandon the "whole child" theory--it's quite necessary at colleges where the student body isn't as rigorously academic--you know, like Duke.

Helen Rittelmeyer: I would have thought that Mrs. Newmark, as a high school teacher, would have had more to say about this New York Times article on the "perfectionism problem" in America's universities.

She does says this:

It was a lot easier when they just looked at GPA and SAT scores.

An unpopular opinion these days, when most educators rail against the cold impersonality of standardized testing, recommending instead that colleges (and No Child Left Behind advocates) focus on the "whole child."

Well, it certainly was easier when colleges based their decisions on a set of numbers instead of that vague abstract the "whole student," and it was probably better. Universities, for all their keg parties and a cappella singing groups, are about intellectual learning, and from what I've seen during four years of high school, SAT's and GPA's are a good judge of how well a student is at it.

As for the claim that testing is biased toward any certain type of student, I have found the opposite to be true. The high-school students I know who have SAT scores 1550-1600 make a highly diverse group: long-haired political junkies, bespectacled math geeks, stoner white boys, dynamic and charismatic libertarian bloggers . . . In any case, it has certainly not been my experience that test scores discriminate against students too poor to buy every Kaplan and Princeton Review book on the market, or against those who fill their lives with things other than studying all the time.

The culture that has developed around college admissions is truly bizarre, more so than even Stage Mom culture. Some pressure is healthy, but sites like IvySuccess.com are just ridiculous. They charge $8995 for a "Standard Consultation" and $18,000 for a "Complete Strategy." Absurd.

The truth is that any student can join the Key Club or fill their afternoons with extra-curriculars, and you can't base competitive admissions decisions on things any student can do. Summoning the energy to volunteer for a set number of hours every semester doesn't show the kind of perseverance Harvard and Yale demand; a 4.0 GPA does. Going to Environmental Club on Wednesdays doesn't prove that you will do well at a rigorous academic institution; test scores do.

Of course extra-curricular activities and general well-roundedness should be a factor in college admissions, but their use should be (to borrow from the other great debate of college admissions, affirmative action) "narrowly tailored."

If we attacked the high school obsessions that create the "perfectionism problem" in the first place, I'm sure we could cut Bowdoin's student counseling budget by half, at least.

Captain: Neal Boortz writes that he's afraid of the UN trying to use ICANN, the organization that distributes domain names, to control internet content.

There is no greater source of world-wide information today than the Internet. This massive information database covering everything from politics to economics to sports to cures for warts simply cannot be ignored by governments who love to control such things.

The initial idea here is for the United Nations to merely exercise control over the assignment of domain names. That sounds innocuous enough. The stated fear is that the United States might allow political considerations to determine who does and does not get an Internet domain, and that ICANN could shut down domains from countries that don’t toe the American line. The Palestinian Authority, for instance, has been assigned the .ps Internet domain. What if the US orders a shutdown of the domain assigned to the Palestinian Authority shut down to show disfavor for Yasser Arafat’s latest campaign of violence?

Here’s a better question. What if the United Nations, after taking control of ICANN, decides that the Israeli domain (.il) needs to be shut down? This is not hard to imagine, given decades of UN hostility toward Israel.

...Those who would tout the UN’ s dedication to basic freedoms, including freedom of speech, would use the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights as Exhibit A. Bill Clinton once told us that this document was the greatest document in the history of human freedom. I’ll use the same Exhibit A to prove them wrong.

To be sure, the UN Human Rights Declaration offers lip-service to basic freedoms. Article 19 reads: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

So, Boortz, how in the world can you say that the UN would initiate a campaign to control Internet content when its own Human Rights Declaration guarantees the freedom to “impart information and ideas through any media and regardless to frontiers.”

Grab your handy copy of the Declaration and read on … read on to Article 29. Section 3. No … wait. I’ll just print it here for you to read: “These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.”

In case you were wondering, here is the full text of Article 29:

(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.

(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.

(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Certainly is a scary clause. The whole declaration can be found here.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Captain: Recently, Left-wing blogging superstar Daily Kos has come under fire for this post:

Let the people see what war is like. This isn't an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush's folly.

That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries. They aren't in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.

The understandable backlash: several advertisers, including various Democratic election campaigns, have removed their ads and John Kerry has delinked Kos from his website. Appropriate enough, I'd say.

The Stinging Nettle takes John Kerry to task for delinking:

Calling Kos on the carpet is one thing. Delinking from the Dailykos site is just cowardice. Pure and simple. Kos made a stupid, thoughtless remark in an entry on another poster's diary. I have talked with Kos before - he's about as sure of himself as any person I've ever spoken with. And he occasionally says things he shouldn't, and then follows up with a justification.

This time, he followed it up with a better-thought out statement which, really, handed the Republicans an attack on a silver platter. Out of the thousands and thousands of truly insightful posts he's made, this one stood out as less-than-appealing. But given his life story of growing up in El Salvador while American "contractors" helped execute people around him? Well, let's just say his statement, while still not acceptable, is a bit more understandable.

But then the Free Republic assholes started to run with this, and next thing you know, John Kerry is delinking.

Result? He will now have to justify linking to every blog on his site. Anytime say, digby, says something outrageous, which he does from time to time, Kerry will be asked to denounce and delink, or he'll be said to endorse it.

Stupid. Dick Cheney is on Rush Limbaugh's show, but no one asks him if that means he is now pro-junkie. Nobody asks Bush Administration figures whether they endorse the racist filth spewed out by Don Imus' flunkie Bernard. No. Only the left is responsible for everything everyone else on the left might possibly say or do.

Call it what you will, but it's surely not stupid. In a high-stakes race, Kerry surely can't risk being associated with someone who receives that sort of backlash that could surely be harped upon by the opposition. Kerry's delinking isn't stupid, but it's not smart--it's commonsense politics.

The Rush Limbaugh connection is unfair. Rush surely doesn't believe in abusing prescription drugs. He was unfortunately addicted to them after recovering from major surgery. He's admitted his folly, not backed down on his principles (It's one thing for your basest desires to overcome your beliefs, it's another to change your beliefs because you don't want to give up your basest desires), and sought rehab completely voluntarily. Plus, the dynamics of appearing on a radio show and linking to site are quite different: radio shows thrive on differences of opinions between host and guests, by linking to another site as Kerry did, you are effectively voicing your support for that person's opinions.

And Kerry, quite simply, can't afford to link to the sort of irrational, hate-filled opinions that Kos posted.

Stinging Nettle's wrong that this is a Left-only phenomenon. If Bush linked to a blog that was found to contain vitriolic messages about, oh, say, gays or feminists, he would (and should) surely be contacted about it and it should be demanded that such links be removed. Every link on the Bush and Kerry websites should be justifiable (Nettle's idea that each one need not be justified baffles me; if you can't justify linking to a site, why link to it?) and each candidate should be kept aware of the kind of sentiment they've become associated with. It's the only way to triage the really dangerous and unsavory elements of both parties.

The lesson the SJF learns about this? There's a certain beneficial quality to being under the radar.

Captain: All interesting political discussions, somehow, in some way, relate to sex.

In Latrobe, PA, a 15-year old girl has been charged with sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography for taking nude pictures of herself and posting them on the Internet.

This, of course, defies logic. Can she really sexually abuse herself? I wonder about the logical extension of such an allegation.

Mad Scientist Eugene Volokh weighs in:

Nonetheless, it's not clear to me that prosecuting her -- especially for those crimes -- is the right solution to this, just as prosecuting sexually promiscuous 15-year-olds who have sex with adults for "aiding and abetting statutory rape" doesn't seem quite the right answer, either. If this is one of those scare-the-kid-a-bit prosecutions, that might be fine. But if the prosecutors are serious about throwing the book at her, and locking her up for years (the usual situation with people convicted of the crimes of which they're accusing her), then it hardly seems to be much of a service to her -- who is after all the supposed victim as well as the perpetrator -- or to the fight against child porn more broadly

This is the part that really makes me wonder, though:

A police report did not say how police learned about the girl.

Captain: North State buddy Publicola addresses the unfortunate decision by the DC court on Parker v. DC, which upholds DC's gun laws on account of the fact that the plaintiffs were not members of militia.

Again we see a court take U.S. v. Miller & misinterpret it. Then they cite 60+ years of circuit court decisions that also misinterpret Miller. & on top of that they claim that since the Supreme Court has not reviewed Miller or any direct 2nd amendment cases since Miller that the highest court in the land must approve of the interpretation of Miller.

...The court explained in some depth that a person had to be sanctioned by the state to qualify as a member of a militia. They reasoned that a militia must be trained & organized by the state & subsequently that enrollment in such a militia is the only means of claiming to be part of the militia. In other words, they suggest that unless you are actually on a roll of a state's militia then you're not a member of the militia. This despite the evidence presented in Miller that the militia was composed of all capable people within certain a certain age frame.

But the D.C. court held that since the plaintiffs raised no argument that they were members of a militia that they had no claim under the 2nd amendment & ruled against them.

Gun owners out there--what should you do if the same decision is made by the Supreme Court? Well, the obvious choice is to join an angry, slighted militia.

On a separate note: Publicola and OxBlog--separated at birth?

Captain: Odd words from the Qaddafi/Gaddafi/Gadhafi family:

The son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said Wednesday Arab countries should support President Bush's campaign to promote democracy in the Middle East. . . .

"Instead of shouting and criticizing the American initiative, you have to bring democracy to your countries, and then there will be no need to fear America or your people,'' said Seif al-Islam Gadhafi. "The Arabs should either change or change will be imposed on them from outside.''

Qaddafi goes on to praise Israel and denounce nepotism. And I echo both Eugen Volokh and Instapundit in saying: What's going on?

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Captain: Question to President Zapatero:

What do you do now?

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